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Cannes Has Record Number of Female Filmmakers, But Lots of Ground to Make Up

Cannes Film Festival is making efforts to diversify beyond the cavalcade of many of the same male auteurs. Instead, there will be a record number of women directors in competition.Now the bad news.

That record is a paltry five female filmmakers, out of 21 films overall, representing less than a quarter of all movies vying for Cannes’ top prize, the Palme d’Or. The dearth of women in the lineup puts pressure on the handful of female directors who were tapped to premiere their films in the South of France.“Because there are so few women in competition, we feel a lot of pressure, as if we had to be symbols,” admits Léonor Serraille, the director of “Mother and Son.” “We ask ourselves a lot of questions.

But the issue is that I don’t want to be only described as a female director.” Moreover that kind of reductive analysis tends to overshadow the diverse range of projects being offered up by the five women in competition – a group that also includes Kelly Reichardt (“Showing Up”), Claire Denis (“The Stars at Noon”), Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (“The Almond Tree”), and Charlotte Vandermeersch, the co-director of “Le Otto Montagne.” And the universal themes that they explore. Denis’ latest, a thriller set during the Nicaraguan Revolution, seems dramatically removed from Bruni Tedeschi’s look at a group of young actors on the cusp of their careers.

And Reichardt’s latest neorealist drama also functions as a meditation on the art of creation. It follows a sculptor in Portland, Oregon as she tries to balance financial and familial pressures, while carving out time to prepare for an exhibition.“The interest was in the day-to-day life of making work and work that might not even get seen,” Reichardt told Variety for a recent cover story

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Kelly Reichardt Claire Denis

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